City Guide: Valletta
Valletta is the capital of Malta and is Europe’s southernmost capital. The historic city is a masterpiece of baroque architecture and proudly considered a World Heritage City.
The city was build as a fortress to protect Christendom and is among the first of European cities to be constructed as a grid system. Build by the Knights of St. John in the 16th century on a small peninsula, the capital is mainly surrounded by water and its streets are very narrow.
Valletta can be easily accessed from Sliema by ferry or by one of the numerous buses, this however takes slightly longer due to the rather hectic traffic and the bad condition of streets. From then on, all the historic buildings and sights are reachable by foot.
Auberge de Castille
This auberge is one of the most stunning buildings in Valletta. The Auberge de Castille we can see today, was built in a baroque style in the 1740s.
Originally, it was built during the 16th century to host the knights from the Order of Saint John. Nowadays, it houses the office of the premier minister. Auberge de Castille is located in Castille Square, which is close both to the Malta Stock Exchange as well as the Upper Barrakka Gardens.
Upper Barrakka Garden and Saluting Battery in Valletta
From the Upper Barrakka Gardens you can overlook the Grand Harbour as well as enjoy a beautiful scenic view.
A special event takes place here every day at noon and 4 pm, when one of the canons is being fired off. This is a celebration of the historical salutations taking place here.
The Upper Barrakka Gardens are a beautiful and peaceful place as well. You can stroll around here or just take a short break from your sightseeing.
Churches in Valletta
Malta is a very religious country, where plenty of religious sites can be found. The capital thus, does not only have two beautiful cathedrals but also five further churches.
St. John’s Co-Cathedral is one of them. This Roman-Catholic was build between 1572 and 1577. It was designed by the Maltese architect Girolamo Cassar, who also designed several other buildings in Valletta.
Grandmasters’s Palace Valletta
This palace was constructed between the 16th and 18th century. The Grand Master of the Order of St. John, who ruled the island around this time, lived here.
Nowadays, the palace hosts the office of the Maltese president. A part of the palace has also been turned into a public museum.
Official buildings in Valletta
Like other capital cities Valletta also has a number of different official buildings. These include the New Parliament Building, the Law Courts Building, the Main Guard Building and the Central Bank of Malta.
While the parliament is rather newly build, it still perfectly matches the style of the entire city. The other buildings have a rich history and look very impressive as well.
Fort St. Elmo in Valletta
At the end of our visit of Valletta we walked to the Fort St. Elmo, which is located on the east side of Valletta. However, from the outside you cannot see anything spectacular.
Due to time constraints we didn’t check it out from the inside, but if you are interested in the history of Malta, you should have a look at the many items in the National War Museum that cover the development of Malta.
Our overall impression of Valletta
We were both really positively surprised of how beautiful Valletta was and would love to return to explore it even more. It was highly impressive to see so many beautiful buildings on such a small area. Moreover, the extensive historical, sandstone buildings and small alleys create a very warm and welcoming atmosphere. I also really liked all the lights and decorations that had been set up prior to Christmas.